Nellie Benson

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Cover of her book
Nellie Benson (Mary Eleanor Benson, 1863-1890) was the daughter of Edward White Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury and his wife Mary Benson.

She attended Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford.

"Although also an avid sportswoman, excelling in tennis and a member of a lady's cricket team, she was not one of the notorious "new women," who challenged Victorian mores."[1]

She observed the lives of working-class women in Lambeth, and her observations were published posthumously as Streets and Lanes of the City[2]

Towards the end of her short life, Nellie had an affair with her mother's former lover, the composer Ethel Smyth.[3]


  1. Nancy Fix Anderson, "Lambeth Women Speak: Urban Poverty and Religion in Nellie Benson's London" in Anglican and Episcopal History,, June 2003
  2. Republished as Lambeth Women Speak: Urban Poverty and Religion in Nellie Benson's London
  3. Martha Vicinus, Intimate Friends: Women Who Loved Women, 1778-1928 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004) page 134.